Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of her close friend Charlotte Bront was published in 1857 to immediate popular acclaim, and remains the most significant study of the enigmatic author who gave Jane Eyre the subtitle An Autobiography. It recounts Charlotte Bront 's life from her isolated childhood, through her years as a writer who had 'foreseen the single life' for herself, to her marriage at thirty-eight and death less than a year later. The resulting work - the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist - explored the nature of Charlotte's genius and almost single-handedly created the Bront myth.
ELIZABETH GASKELL was born in London in 1810. She married a minister, and her literary output was substantial and completely professional. Many of her works are available in Penguin Classics, including NORTH AND SOUTH, SYLVIA'S LOVERS, and WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. She died suddenly in 1865. ELISABETH JAY has taught and lectured at various universities in Great Britain and the USA, and is currently Head of Westminster College, Oxford. Her books include FAITH AND DOUBT IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN.